• Advent 1 – practice being ready

    Thursday, December 4th, 2014

    For the prison this afternoon:

    It doesn’t matter whether or not you can have faith;
    whether or not you are cynical or despairing,
    hope-filled or hope-less:
    what matters to God is simply that you are here.

    We are entering the time of Advent,
    in preparation for Christmas.
    Advent reminds us that if God is to be born again
    in the most ordinary parts of our world and our lives
    that we need prepare for it.

    We need to make the space in our lives
    where love might be born.

    Welcome to this tiny corner of a harsh and dark world.
    Together, let us practice being ready
    in the faith that Christ will come.


    Thursday, November 6th, 2014

    Reasons why I want to thank Eve for eating the apple:

    Imagine a world where there was only a garden
    every day

    where knowledge existed only of what was right in front of you

    no need to make choices
    no need to weigh up the bad and the not so bad
    the good and the brilliant

    no need for the wisdom
    that comes from understanding my own choices
    and potential
    and nuance
    and courage

    no need for Breaking Bad
    or The Wire

    no need for the generosity of forgiveness
    for the richness and depth that comes from letting someone be more,
    and letting ourselves let go

    imagine never tasting an apple
    or apple pie
    or apple cider

    imagine never needing to understand consequences
    and existing with the not knowing
    of what I am capable of
    and what I am missing out on

    imagine never needing to attempt to understand another person
    and what drives them
    and never needing to imagine another person’s world
    and to acknowledge how limited my imagination can be

    no need to experience my own limitations
    and to test them beyond themselves

    no need ever to move beyond here.

    you’re still there

    Thursday, October 30th, 2014

    It seems there is a different ‘hardest thing’ every day.

    Today it was that you didn’t remember that we really had fun last night

    but sometimes it’s that you don’t remember you rang just before, and just before that, and before that,
    first thing this morning,
    and asked the same question
    to which i gave the same answer I gave yesterday,

    and i will next time you call, too.

    The other day it was that you didn’t remember that you loved cappuccinos
    or that salmon was always your favourite
    and that you would never have ordered pasta

    [though i loved that while we were eating,
    you whispered to me that you’ll always vote labour,
    till you die.
    'Anyone but that Tony Abbott', you said again, wrinkling your nose with familiar distaste]

    Sometimes it’s that you don’t remember your son, the one who died all those years ago,
    in the car accident
    [yes, that was him, yes, it was terrible]
    and your grief becomes raw again
    because it’s brand new, every day.

    Sometimes the hardest thing is that look on your face
    when you’re confused
    and trying so hard not to let on

    and when you craft a memory from threads that were never meant to be sewn together
    and declare adamantly that this is truth
    from which nothing can detract or divert you,
    and we find ourselves defending things that would be indefensible
    except they never happened to begin with.

    And sometimes you make a joke
    that’s so sharp
    and so quick
    it makes us laugh with relief and surprise
    as much as humour
    ‘you’re still there’
    we realise.
    thank god.
    thank you.

    the gates of hope

    Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

    I used to stand at the gates of hope
    calling to those who walked past
    till i was hoarse
    speaking with truth,
    bearing witness to grace

    and then either I moved
    or hope did
    and i find myself
    where i can’t
    for the life of me
    see it anymore.

    I’m sure it’s there
    [i’ve not given up on it!]
    it just must be hidden
    behind the seemingly impermeable walls
    of self-righteousness
    or optimism
    or wilful ignorance
    where i seem to find myself

    Perhaps if i stop looking
    and stand still
    for long enough
    hope will find me

    or maybe I will finally hear the voice
    I’m sure is there
    - hoarse, no doubt, and croaky -
    calling truth and grace to me
    from its gates.

    i just don’t know

    Friday, October 24th, 2014

    i am perhaps in danger
    of holding agnosticism as fiercely
    and with the same tenacious commitment
    that would not let me
    let go
    of faith
    when it had had its time.

    and i wonder again whether it matters
    [this belief or its absence],
    and what it is in me
    that simply can’t decide.

    when it isn’t a crisis

    Friday, October 17th, 2014

    It’s been a while! Much happening in non-public spaces… but this one’s for Amy, and for Jill, and for Sarah, and for David, who all said in the last couple of weeks, ‘will you update the fricking blog already’…

    What if it isn’t a faith crisis.
    What if leaving it all behind holds
    nothing of crisis,
    just liberation.

    Like being born into a new human-ness
    that you want to honour
    as deeply as you’ve honoured
    every god you’ve believed in.

    What if it seems that the others are having the crisis
    with their need to squeeze you into
    the labels they hold so dear,
    as though you being there
    can validate their need to stay true
    to what you no longer believe

    but it’s like living in clothing
    that simply doesn’t fit,
    the dress that isn’t quite right
    so you have to keep adjusting
    wriggling into
    pinning up
    and tying on.

    Why would you?

    And maybe leaving that behind has made you more human
    and more alive
    than you’ve felt before.
    Like this matters:
    this one fragile existence
    with its very real ending
    and its very hard truths.
    And maybe leaving that there, for others to hold,
    gives you empty hands to grasp all that’s left to live.

    in spite of us

    Thursday, April 24th, 2014

    Things that make me want to have faith:
    the idea that a resurrected life isn’t blemish free:
    it bears witness to the world’s wounds.

    This is for the prison this afternoon.

    In spite of our doubts,
    may we recognise you in our midst:
    wounded, bloody, and resurrected

    in spite of our doubts,
    may we know when we come face to face
    with the love that is greater than all deaths

    in spite of our doubts,
    may we reach out to touch the wounds of the world’s pain
    trusting that when grace and love surround them
    they will become part of Christ’s resurrected body.

    and in spite of our doubts,
    may we live as though we are, too.

    good friday 2014

    Thursday, April 17th, 2014

    This is for tomorrow in the remand centre. We have six services spread over the day there… I’ve been thinking a lot, after going to numerous services in prisons around the state over the last couple of weeks, how much our hatred for human nature [and ourselves] creeps into liturgy at this time of year. Perhaps the crowd weren’t that fickle on Palm Sunday. Most of them, it seems, hadn’t heard of Jesus – and nothing that’s written about Palm Sunday would indicate that there was any way they could get a picture of who he was, and why he might be God. Maybe the story tells us of people’s desperation for a saviour, not of their / our fickleness. That’s the angle we’re taking tomorrow.

    Finally, it has to be said that I don’t really like what I’ve prepared for tomorrow – and if you feel the same way I do, once you’ve read it, feel free to apply for the half time prison chaplains position we have going at the moment, so i don’t end up doing this again next year! Full service can be downloaded here: GoodFriday_MRC2014_final

    What was it about Jesus
    that was so confusing for governments
    and for ordinary people?

    Pilate couldn’t make sense of Jesus
    and half the time we can’t either.

    We want a God who comes in might and power to take all before him
    and yet we get Jesus:
    unmistakably human and vulnerable,
    political subversive
    always on the side of love, not power
    human, even to the point of death.

    We keep asking the question,
    ‘God, who are you?’
    in the hope we’ll get a different answer.
    And God just keeps coming back with this one.

    a palm sunday sending out

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

    for the Remand Centre this thursday :

    And now we lay down the palm branches.
    And with them we lay down
    our belief
    that there is another way for you to be God.

    As the last echo of the final alleluia fades,
    so does our hope that this journey can end
    in any other way.

    The week stretches ahead
    and pain-full

    Whether we walk with all faith or none
    we look towards the cross,
    knowing it is both the most human
    and most divine
    of all journeys

    travel the road with courage,
    with love,
    and with the uneasy peace that is the gift of faith
    into this holiest of weeks.


    god save me

    Monday, March 31st, 2014

    [probably unfinished, so I'll probably regret posting it. whatever.]

    I would rather it otherwise, God,
    but I don’t think you deliberately chose the cross.
    I think you simply chose love
    at every available moment
    even though it led
    to death.

    I would rather it otherwise,
    because it means faith
    is me
    making the choice
    to say yes, still,
    to love.

    And while I pray,
    God save me
    from the life of faith
    which will cost me everything,
    I fear God already has
    by making me live it.

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